We come for the nature and friends and leave with nourishment for the soul. ~E. William (Bill) Wilson
President, Friends of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, former Mammals class instructor
We understand nature best when immersed in it. The intimate SNFC learning experience creates a synergy between experts and students to evoke a sense of wonder and gratitude, and thus an obligation to be wise environmental stewards. ~ Jim Steele, SNFC Director, 1984-2010
My husband and I have been taking classes at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus for ten years. From butterflies to bats to landscape painting, we have increased our understanding of California's environment under the tutelage of some world-class instructors, reveling in the program's combination of intellectual stimulation and the great outdoors. I can't think of a more satisfying way to continue our post-retirement education. ~Doris Kretschmer, former Executive Editor, University of California Press
I first came to the field campus as a student to take an astronomy class. I found the experience to be communal, immersive, and the location inspiring. So much so that I applied to teach a landscape painting class there, and have done so every summer since. The level of comaraderie among the students and teachers is wonderful, and the diversity of surroundings ~ meadows, lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and vast valleys ~ makes for wonderful learning opportunities. ~Bill Cone, SNFC instructor
I discovered SNFC in 2009 and was immediately taken with the surrounding beauty of not just the campus itself but the nearby wilderness of lakes and mountains. The annual weekend SF State Alumni camping weekend is something I anticipate every year. It is a time to decompress from the tensions of urban life, to see returning friends and make new ones. It is also a time to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and listen to the river. ~Dorina Lindberg, Student
The kindness of the staff combined with the beautiful setting makes for an ideal learning environment. Everyone I saw there had a smile on their face...happy to be learning and happy to be at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus. ~Jim Bruno, SNFC instructor
The clean mountain air was invigorating, and learning and writing out on the dining room deck under those stately big trees was inspiring. Lying down on the fire circle benches with so many other determined souls at 3am, faces turned skyward, counting the number of shooting stars during the summer meteor showers. Even the drive to and from the crest of Hwy. 49 was delightful. The birding trip at dusk out to that spectacular valley east of the campus was another highlight. I had never been in the Sierras that far north before, and it was a bonus gift to get to know the area the SF State Field Campus is nested within geographically. But the river flowing through the field campus was the best of the best. There's nothing like a clear, cold mountain spring to refresh the spirit. ~Mary Ann Huckabay, student
My first experience at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus was this past summer and I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. The writing workshop was a highlight for me and has encouraged me further on my writing path. Meeting fellow [SFSU] alumni and sharing stories under the stars left me with a feeling of camaraderie and welcome. I will surely plan to attend again and hopefully enroll in one of the many great courses offered there. ~Elaine Morizono, student
I value the Sierra Nevada Field Campus because it is a refreshingly non corporate, rustic yet comfortable place that offers a beautiful setting for the small, intensive classes. The offerings are truly unique, focusing on nature and creativity, attracting a variety of folk who can share nicely prepared meals in the dining room. This place is a find! I want to see it made available (and affordable) to all ages of students in the future. It is not wheelchair accessible, but possibly a room and bath closer to the parking lot could be constructed. ~ Rachel De Carlo, student
I love the field campus because...
It is an amazing place where you can disconnect from technology and connect with the land and with other students - like summer camp, but for adults. Writing retreats at the field campus are a pilgrimage of sorts - allowing me to reconnect with myself, with the spirit of the Yuba River, and with new and returning friends and kindred spirits. Every time I arrive at the field campus, my heart swells with love and joy and hope. And when I leave, I carry those gifts with me as I count the days until I can return again. Much love, Jessica Beckham, student
I would say that a writer's life on the California coast can be isolating and there's nothing more encouraging and restorative than writing in the Sierras with others at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus. The mountains, lakes, vegetation, wild life and encouragement of the talented faculty and staff renew us. Thank you, SNFC! ~Judith Conner, student
I can't overstate how incredible this course is [Observational Astronomy]. I learned the basics of stargazing, including how to recognize common celestial bodies, use a star chart, and operate a telescope. We also learned why telescopes work, and what professional scientists can see when they look at distant star systems. I even learned about the fundamental properties of the universe! But the best part was that every night, we would put what we learned in class into practice. There is nothing like watching the sky from the beautiful, quiet Sierras, seeing the summer constellations slowly rise and knowing each of them by name. My appreciation for the night sky is forever changed! ~Annalee Newitz, student
I began teaching my SNFC Flora course in summer of 1981. I had joined the faculty of Biology at SFSU only two years earlier. That summer I spent nearly six weeks at SNFC, driving and hiking around, familiarizing myself with the flora. Over the years I have had an array of people take the course: teachers, national forest biologists, environmental consultants, undergraduates (science and non-science majors), graduate students in Botany, college professors, and lay people who enjoy nature, including locals as well as people from across the country. I have had students in their late 70s, and as young as early teens. More than once I have had students retake the course; several years ago I had a former student return after 20+ years, this time with her granddaughter. Some SNFC students came back to take other courses from me at SFSU, and a few even became my graduate students.
I teach people the fundamentals of how to identify plants in the field, and how to recognize common trees, shrubs, and plant families. We also learn about rare plants, their conservation and protection. The spread of botanical backgrounds among students each year has been extensive, but everyone in the class works and learns together. No one leaves the course without learning something new about plants and the flora of the Sierra Nevada. What is shared across a class is a passion for nature, especially the plants.
There is no better way to learn the plants of a region than by going out into the field, sitting beside the plants as they are in full bloom. The region around SNFC is botanically rich and diverse, very accessible, scenic, and much less crowded than areas of the Sierra farther south. The field campus and environs are always in fine form at the end of June. And for five days all you have to do is show up to breakfast at 7am, dinner at 6 pm, and spend the rest of the day outdoors in a botanically spectacular setting. SNFC is an ideal place for a course like mine. Memories: Discovering for the first time species new to the course; hikes to the top of the Sierra Buttes; an afternoon swim in Upper Salmon Lake (or Round Lake for the bravest); botanizing in the rain, hiking across a late spring snow field; the constant botanical banter as a line of students hikes along a trail. ~Bob Patterson Professor of Biology (ret.) San Francisco State University
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